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Four-Element Theory and Chemistry

In Europe, four-element theory was made. This theory is not useful today. But as a reference, the idea to analyze relationship and property is useful.

Modern chemistry was made through four-element theory. Wu xing is not developed like this.

Four-Element Theory

This theory considers materials are combination of air, earth, fire, water. Then it considers that there are common properties. Heat is for fire and air. Wet is for air and water. Cool is for water and earth. Dry is for earth and fire.


Alchemy was studied both in Europe and China. But Chinese alchemy was mainly for medicine to live eternally.

Alchemy is interesting because it is the combination of pre-modern chemistry and reckless idea. Today, alchemy disappeared. But the purpose to make gold from other substances was succeeded in 20th century. But the cost is too high to start business.

Wu Xing and Four-element Theory

Wu xing and four-element theory are similar in the name. But the idea is difficult. Four-element theory disappeared. But wu xing is used today.

Difference betwen Wu Xing and Four-element Theory
Wu Xing Four-element Theory
Place of Study China Europe
Purpose Healty life Change of materials (Alchemy)
Link of Factors Lose and produce
with direction
Same property
with non-direction
View of Factors Relationship and harmony Combination produces materials
History Be affirmed. Then developed. Denied and change into modern chemistry

Wu xing may be a hint to study Environment because the idea of relationship of wu xing is useful .

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